Published: December 9, 2008
Pastel has long been embraced as an exceptionally versatile and effective drawing technique. “The Art of the Pastel” at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute features 11 works by Edgar Degas, Jean-Francois Millet, Camille Pissarro, Mary Cassatt and others, on view through February 16.
“The Art of the Pastel” highlights the range of styles and subjects explored by Nineteenth Century artists using this delicate yet spirited technique. A medium favored for portraiture since the Eighteenth Century, the pastel crayon †composed of vibrant pigments and gum-based binders †produces colored lines with fluidity and flexibility, allowing artists to create quickly conceived, luminous designs, which can then be manipulated through layering, smudging and blending. The resultant image, while similar in effect to a finished oil painting, can be extremely fragile due to the powdery nature of the medium.
The Clark’s collection of pastels has been an important feature since the museum’s founding. From Sterling and Francine Clark’s purchase of Edgar Degas’ “Entrance of the Masked Dancers” in 1927, to the addition of Camille Pissarro’s “Boulevard de Clichy” in 1996, the collection has expanded to include key works by prominent artists in the medium, exploring the art of the pastel as it was practiced throughout the Nineteenth Century.
Other works included are “Méry Laurent Wearing a Small Toque” by Édouard Manet; “Portrait of Mrs Cyrus J. Lawrence with Grandson R. Lawrence Oakley,” “Woman with Baby” and “Child in a Red Hat” by Mary Cassatt; “Little Girl with a Pear” by Frederick Childe Hassam; “Madame Maugey-Rosengart and a Dog in an Interior” by Édouard Vuillard; “The Sower” by Jean-Francois Millet; “Portrait of William W. Gilbert” and “Portrait of Catherine Casine Gilbert,” attributed to James Sharples.
The Clark is at 225 South Street. For more information, www.clarkart.edu or 413-458-2303.
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